Operation Ghost Rider: Michigan police to ride in unmarked cars to find distracted drivers

DETROIT – Michigan State Police's "Operation Ghost Rider," a program aimed at catching distracted drivers, will start Monday.

According to authorities, more than 50 law enforcement officers from police departments, sheriff's offices and the Michigan State Police will begin conducting Operation Ghost Rider on Monday. The goal is to reduce deaths and injuries that result from distracted driving.

Operation Ghost Rider will use unmarked spotter vehicles, which contain a passenger who is a law enforcement officer. When the spotters observe a distracted driver, they radio a fully marked law enforcement unit to initiate a traffic stop.

This initiative is being coordinated by the Transportation Improvement Association and funded by the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning.

"Distracted driving is completely preventable, but it continues to be a serious problem among drivers," said Jim Santilli, CEO of the TIA. "Every time a driver operates a vehicle while distracted, they are endangering everyone on or near the roadway. The goal of Operation Ghost Rider is to save lives and prevent injuries by changing driver behavior."

Participating agencies include the Auburn Hills Police Department, Clinton Township Police Department, Macomb County Sheriff's Office, Michigan State Police, Oakland County Sheriff's Office, Shelby Township Police Department, Sterling Heights Police Department and Utica Police Department.

"Distracted drivers put themselves and everyone else on the road in extreme danger. That text, phone call or any other behavior taking your focus off your driving can and should wait," said Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, director of the Michigan State Police. "We hope this traffic enforcement initiative will help change dangerous driver behavior."

Operation Ghost Rider was revealed at a press conference in Macomb County last year. During a total of 18 hours of enforcement, law enforcement officers conducted more than 907 traffic stops resulting in 726 citations and 34 arrests.